Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Kneads - Letting You Let Me Down

Label: Potluck
Year: 2015

When I was coming of age in North Carolina it was known for three things back then: tobacco, basketball, and indie rock. No matter how hard my friends and I might have tried to get NC on the map for hardcore, it was the college kids and their ramshackle post hardcore indie rock that got all the attention (by this time COC had transitioned to full on metal [albeit really good metal] and Antiseen always had a....niche appeal..like the same dudes who were into professional wrestling [again, nothing wrong with that]). And for good reason, it's the best in the business bar none. Period.

To understand The Kneads you need (no pun intended?) to understand the cartography of North Carolina indie rock circa 1992, when Chapel Hill was king, and Polvo, Archers of Loaf, Superchunk, Pipe, Small, and The Veldt were in high gear putting out seminal records left and right, defining a new version of alternative music that relied as much on the dissonance of Sonic Youth as it did the melody of The Kinks (by way of the dBs). Not that it was huge or anything, but people were into it and a "scene" was happening. Which was all well and good, but like most stories, there was more to it than just the big (and let's remember that "big" is a relative term here) names, there were bands scattered across the state kicking up their own strand of weirdo music, Raleigh had Picasso Trigger, Winston-Salem had Squatweiler,  Rights Reserved was from Durham(?), Charlotte had the dirtier, nastier strain with Antiseen and Sewer Puppet (nay, Buzzoven), and Greensboro an hour to the west had their own thing going. Greensboro had it's own collage, it's own artistic subculture (although Winston-Salem had the actual band, Subculture), and most nights at the Somewhere Else Tavern or the Miracle House of Rock, or somewhere on Tate Street you could find Geezer Lake or The Raymond Brake playing along side whomever had the foresight to play a show the night before or after their Cat's Cradle gig.

Geezer Lake specialized in some particularly ugly art damage that went from sludgy dirge straight into crisp catchiness all on the back of a warped trumpet. And while the Raymond Brake have been posted here before, it bears repeating that their version of indie rock was some of the best of the era, from anywhere, from any time. Well, wouldn't you know it, but The Kneads features Raymond Brake drummer Joel Darden (who plays guitar here), and formerly featured Chris Clodfelter who piloted the aforementioned trumpet in Geezer Lake, and Slowchange Madagascar (he's no longer in the band though). And wouldn't you know it, The Kneads take all of the ingredients (vinegar based ingredients, naturally) that made North Carolina indie rock the greatest indie rock of all time, and distill them out into an updated version of the form. All the glorious fractured melody, all the off-kilter guitar surges, all the seething aggression and spite that hides just below the surface...it's all there. It's all there in and it couldn't make me happier. It quenches a specific nostalgia, but it's new and different and great in it's own right. This isn't a retread of Superchunk songs (although, yeah, you'll hear Superchunk in the mix), The Knead has synthesized a sound that defined an era, pays proper homage to it, and goes forth into the good night with torch in hand to show the way for a new generation.

Listen to "Jaded and Rejuvenated" and "Persistence Changes Everything" back to back and tell me your day didn't just get a fucking thousand times better. Cause it did.

Absolutely essential.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi gray - great album, thank you!
...opened up a dusty door in my brain reminding me how amazing the raymond brake were.
any chance you could post a zippyshare (or similar) link to download the album?
thanks either way, best,

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